Yesterday I brought Wayne Rooney up from the basement. Dusty programmes, a signed photo, newspaper cuttings and a massive obnoxious poster. “WAYNE ROONEY… IS ROONALDO,” screamed the poster. They had swiftly been moved downstairs to a quiet basement exile the moment he left. I couldn’t really bring myself to throw them away, but didn’t really want to see them either.
And now he’s back.
It was wonderful to have a young Wayne in our side. Wonderful to be there in the Park End when that shot curved over David Seaman, and minutes later when he tried to do it again and *almost* succeeded… Wonderful to see him destroy Bolton single-handedly and somehow not score… To read those old yellow newspaper cuttings by journalists who had seen him play for the first time is wonderful too. They run out of superlatives for a young player who seemed fully formed from the off.
I don’t think we should have brought him back. At least, I thought that until I saw him in blue again. This is where the conflict starts. Because when I stop thinking about the negative aspects, I can hear my heart doing cartwheels.
My heart is so happy he’s home. Seeing him in an Everton shirt and hearing him talk about his love for the club is a beautiful thing. It was a horrible thing to see one of your own leave, made even more upsetting when the realisation hits you that even a die hard blue, adored by the Goodison faithful, the star of his Everton, can have his head turned. Sad because we simply weren’t set up to keep him at Everton.
Even if he isn’t the player he once was (and he definitely isn’t) we’re happy because he’s home. At the most basic level, Wayne’s return has filled the empty Wayne Rooney-shaped hole in our club.
Now he’s here, how is he going to do?
My heart tells me that his wasn’t in it for his final few seasons at Old Trafford. That his hunger to succeed at Everton, to win at Everton, will bring renewed focus and discipline and preserve his career for a little bit longer.
My heart also tells me that some of our most important signings have been of players deemed unfit for purpose. Andy Gray and Peter Reid were both seen as injury prone risks when Howard Kendall bought them. Everton had to seek specialist advice to pass his medical, and Reidy had fought back from an injury which almost ended his career. Both players were key to our success in the 80’s. Perhaps Mourinho made a mistake in selling Rooney. It wouldn’t be the first mistake he’s made, he discarded a young Belgian when he was manager of Chelsea and now he’s having to spend upwards of £75million to get him back.
My head thinks that we’re all being hit by Rooney fever, and in our delirious state we’ve forgotten that yet again, we’ve lost our star player to Man Utd. We’ve now been on the wrong side in Wayne Rooney’s two transfers. We sold the best young talent we’ve ever had and now we’ve bought back a man who is a shade of his former self, discarded by a United team that finished inches above us in the league.
Most of all though, my head thinks that this isn’t the Wayne Rooney that we knew. The name that we were all told to remember is the same, but the player? Entirely different. The bullish, quick and exciting superstar left for Man Utd, and he will never come back. Passion isn’t going to restore Wayne Rooney to greatness, and its not going to rejuvenate his body. Amidst all the newspaper columns and flashing lights,
My head tells me that Wayne Rooney has always played ahead of his age. When he was 15 he played for the under 19’s and then quickly graduated to playing with full grown men. Maybe that’s the curse of Wayne Rooney, that he was so good as a youngster and he played so much, that now he’s on borrowed time. Maybe having a 16-year-old that plays like an adult means that when he’s 31 he’ll be playing like he’s 38…
I’d love to be wrong.
Premier League: Saturday 12 Aug (TBC); Stoke City at Goodison
Saturday 19 Aug (TBC); Manchester City at Etihad Stadium